Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to our New Year’s Day game against MK Dons. I wish all our supporters, staff and the wider Oxford family a healthy, happy and successful 2018. It’s a time of year for optimism and looking forward to the challenges and opportunities a new year brings and, of course, in the football world, the immediate opportunity is the transfer window.
We spent a good deal of time and focus last week on our targets for the transfer window and the resources are available to strengthen the squad with three or four new additions. The key imperative remains building for the long term and returning to a closer model that has served us well over the past three seasons. There will be renewed focus on youth and potential. We will leave no stone unturned to try and ensure we have a good window.
I go to virtually all our games and concur with the general view of the fans I meet. We are struggling to find the consistency required to sustain a push for the play-offs and need to strengthen in a couple of key positions. We also need more pace throughout the team, which will complement the skill and guile of our established players.
I tend to look at trends rather than individual results but there is no doubt that the home defeat to Wigan was hard to take and the performance was well below the standards we have set ourselves.
Our supporters deserve much better and I can completely understand the hurt and disappointment that accompanies such a result. We all shared these emotions - it was a hard game to watch and not an experience I wish to repeat.
One of the phrases I use in business but is equally applicable to sport is:
“If you can’t support us when we lose, don’t support us when we win”
The sustained support from the majority of supporters right to the end of the game, despite the score, was very edifying and showed once again what fantastic support we have.
The imperative from any set back is to draw the right conclusions and not overreact or make rash, emotionally driven decisions.
We have a ‘win together and lose together’ mentality and never is that more required. The response at Gillingham in terms of commitment and desire showed great resilience and demonstrated that the spirit in the camp is undiminished.
Nevertheless, the defeat has refocused us on brutal assessment of what changes are required and the need to use the window wisely.
On the broader perspective, we are still mid-table and there is still much to be optimistic about. I urge all fans to keep the faith and support the players positively. Everyone is giving their best for the shirt and are totally committed to the cause.
I am always a “glass half full” individual and still believe we can move up the table. Our home form does need to improve and all of us need to play our part.
Enjoy the game today and get behind the team.
You can buy the online version of the programme from www.matchdayfix.com/oufc.